Mahama Catches Cold
The Al-Hajj can today report that if what is going on in the Nigeria’s governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is anything to go by, then President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana should brace himself for a potential spill-over of the fratricidal political strife in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party and government he is currently leading.
It can be clearly seen from the current happenings in Nigeria that President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, whose ascension to the pantheon of executive throne in Nigeria is similar to that of President Mahama of Ghana, is on his way out of power after his stubborn refusal to heed the numerous calls from his party to step aside and allow the conventional regional rotation of leadership to take place in the most populous African country.
Scores of state governors with the governing PDP in Nigeria recently defected to the new opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) rendering the ruling party with fewer governors than the opposition.
With paranoia, the Nigerian President also sacked about nine cabinet ministers from his fledgling PDP government.
Just few days ago, the embattled President Jonathan again sacked his service chiefs ostensibly for fear of toppling his wobbling regime.
In the midst of the crisis, the National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, an unashamed Jonathan loyalist also resigned from his post, citing irreconcilable divisions among the major actors in the ruling party.
Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, a key PDP member, recently called on President Goodluck not to seek re-election, accusing him of failing to tackle Nigeria's myriad problems - including the bloody Islamists insurgency in the North, rising poverty across the country and widespread corruption in government.
The embattled but affable Nigerian President, like President Mahama of Ghana, is said to have become a ‘domestic autocrat’ within his party, the governing PDP, and has concentrated massive executive powers to himself immediately he took over the leadership of the country after the demise of former President Ya’Aradua, a key Northern politician and former Governor of Katsina state in Northern Nigeria.
The reason(s), according to a PDP insider in a telephone chat with The Al-Hajj, was for President Goodluck to consolidate his grip over the party and the country and minimize the likelihood of any effective challenge against his rule within and outside the PDP.
Kano State Governor, Rabi'u Kwankwaso, one of the defected governors to the opposition described their recent action as “a tip of the iceberg,” insisting there would be more resignations from the ruling party because it had lost credibility and potency to take Nigeria to the Promised Land under President Jonathan.
“Every rational person knows that we need change. The PDP used to be an umbrella for everybody but it is now a hat for one man. Some people are holding the country hostage so we must come together to rescue it,” Mr. Kwankwaso said.
“The issue is not that of tribalism. Nigerians, irrespective of where they come from have been existing as friends and brothers for long, but when somebody from the South-south took over the mantle of leadership of the country, things started drifting. That is why we must come together to save this country,” he added
Though the governing NDC of Ghana won’t publicly admit it, President Mahama similarly, has been having serious disagreement with senior members of his party including some of his appointees, and even appointees of the late President Mills that he succeeded, The Al-Hajj investigations reveal.
Paradoxically, the eight months long election petition engineered by three leading members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) challenging his legitimacy as the validly elected president, temporary provided some internal respite and succor, and saved him the agony similar to that of Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, but for how long can that continue especially now that the election petition is over?
During the petition hearing, the entire NDC membership and sympathizers buried their differences and rallied behind the President to support him win the case and restore his legitimacy as the validly elected president of the country.
An NDC insider recently told The Al-Hajj “we thought the President was going to use this new-found unity of the party to reconcile with major stakeholders, but regrettably the President woefully failed in this endeavor, and even exacerbated the bickering with his actions and public pronouncements”.
Upon winning the elections, the President is said to have made it clear to all the known centers of power in the party that he was not going to countenance any divided loyalties in his government and therefore, would not accept what he called an imposition of appointees from the so-called NDC stakeholders, whose vital support guaranteed victory for the party both in 2008 and in 2012 elections.
Consequently, the source told The Al-Hajj he unilaterally, although reports suggest together with his influential wife Lordina Mahama, assembled and appointed his ministers, deputy ministers and other appointees to assume various roles in his government.
Almost the entire NDC leadership (including influential General Secretary, Asiedu Nketia and plain-speaking Chairman Dr Kwabena Adjei) and grassroots were exasperated by the President’s appointments accusing him of stuffing the government with ‘strangers’ who were nowhere to be found when the party was struggling to wrestle power from the NPP and even to retain it in 2012 after the first term.
But the President stuck to his unpopular position even in the face of open verbal war with the former Majority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin, who was unanimously supported by NDC MPs in Parliament and almost the entire national executive members of the party.
The Al-Hajj, only last week, reported that President John Dramani Mahama provoked the anger of his party linchpins and grassroots once again with his audacious and unequivocal public endorsement of his beleaguered Finance Minister, Mr. Seth Emmanuel Terkper.
The President, speaking with jest at the Flagstaff House in a conversation with the new Managing Director of Barclays Bank, told the whole world that some members of his party, the NDC, came to him demanding he sack his finance minister, Mr. Seth Terkper, but said he has passed a vote of confidence in the performance of the minister despite protestations from his party, including leading national executive members.
Mr. Terkper is been accused by colleague ministers and other government appointees of starving many Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of their budgetary allocations in the 2013 fiscal year, The Al-Hajj’s investigation revealed.
Again, many in the NDC including party chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei, are reported to have expressed reservation over his handling of the national economy and pointed out the rapid deterioration of the major economic indicators in 2013.
According to an official from Ghana’s Ministry of Finance, the President’s referral to the so-called reforms being undertaken by Mr. Terkper is somewhat misplaced and uninformed.
The official, who for obvious reasons doesn’t want to be named, in a chat with The Al-Hajj, pointed out that; “the GIFMIS programme is an accounting programme that is basically handled by the Controller and Accountant General Department and not the Ministry of Finance and that it constitutes the minutest of tasks of public finance that the finance minister is supposed to supervise”.
“Somebody seems to be misinforming our President about this GIFMIS project vis-à-vis the role of the finance minister.”
“The Minister of Finance is supposed to take full charge of the economy, including the macro-economic fundamentals, especially the fiscal side, and not just the GIFMIS.
…If the minister or the ministry takes over the GIFMIS project, then what would be the role of the Controller and Accountant General and who would in turn reign in the macro-economic deterioration that we are witnessing?”
According to officials from the Finance Ministry “We don’t do GIFMIS at the Finance Ministry, we do fiscals and that is where we can pass judgment on the performance of any Finance Minister, whether Mr. Seth Terkper or anybody, so with all respect, the President and the public should take note of that.
…All of a sudden, GIFMIS has been brought on the front burner of economic discussions as if that is the core function of the Ministry of Finance, we don’t do GIFMIS, is the Accountants at Controller who do GIFMIS,” the source told The Al-Hajj.
Both President Jonathan and Mahama who are in their late 50s together have striking similarities in the manner in which they assumed the mantle of leadership in their respective countries; having succeeded the late Presidents of their countries.
President Jonathan was vice-president for President Umaru Musa Ya’Adua for almost three years before he assumed office after the demise of the latter.
He completed his predecessor’s first term, stood for election on his own and won another term for his party having marshaled an overwhelming endorsement of his party, the PDP.
President Mahama on his part was also the vice-president for President Mills for three and half years before he took on the mantle of leadership after the death of the late Professor of Law.
With an overwhelming endorsement by the NDC rank and file, young President Mahama subsequently stood for presidential election in December 2012 and won a first-round victory against veteran opposition candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo.
These striking similarities also apply to their two respective countries, the Republic of Ghana and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
President Mahama’s Ghana attained independence in 1957 and President Goodluck Jonathan’s Nigeria came out of colonial rule in 1960. The two West African nations both tasted their first military coup d'état in 1966.
Both countries were under the British colonial empire which together with the French colonizers dominated much of the West-African sub-region that they have carved out for themselves arbitrarily using both the language of coercion and co-optation.
Their respective countries have serious tribal and regional differences that have over time morphed into the struggle for tribal supremacy and politics of identity.
Above all, Most Ghanaians and Ghanaian ethnic groups traced their ancestry to Nigeria. Stay tuned for part 2.